Hopes have always been high for Doug O'Neill trainee and Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1)-bound Pavel (pronounced 'PAH-vell'), but the Reddam Racing-owned son of Creative Cause has consistently given his conditioner every indication that he can live up to them. A good-looking, well-balanced and athletic gray colt, Pavel has continuously caught the eye physically, but it is within the Grade 3 winner's work and constitution that his two-time Kentucky Derby-conquering and five-time Breeders' Cup-winning trainer has seen prodigious potential.
“He really has a lot of class,” O'Neill said. “He covers a lot of ground and has a tremendous amount of stamina. On top of that, he has a lot of speed, so he can place himself. Those three –class, stride and stamina – really separate him from the average horse of his caliber.”
Lightly raced and heavily challenged so far in his seven-race career, the Brereton C. Jones and WinStar Farm-bred 4-year-old did not begin his career until July 1st of last year, winning a Santa Anita maiden special weight so impressively over six furlongs that his trainer shipped him across America to Saratoga to take on the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winners four weeks later in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy (G2). He wound up finishing a head behind the former, Always Dreaming, and the same margin to the good of the latter, Cloud Computing.
One start later, he outclassed all in the 1 1/16-mile Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) at Parx in a measured romp before finishing a game third in the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) behind Diversify and Keen Ice – amazingly just his fourth start. After a 10th in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), he was fourth in a pair of Santa Anita starts that were arguably better efforts than they appear on paper – especially last out in the San Pasqual (G2).
“I'm really excited about him,” O'Neill continued. “He's in a consistent place right now and he's very fit and ready. In (the San Pasqual), it was very unfortunate with all the traffic trouble he had. I'm very, very happy with how he's doing right now. He's acting like he's going to run the best race of his life and he would need to in order to win the Dubai World Cup.
“He's a proven shipper who eats well and you need a horse who takes his track with him like he does,” he continued. “He checks all the boxes and has the characteristics you look for when shipping to Dubai and could be very successful. Horses of that quality, sometimes it's just a matter of staying happy and healthy during the trip.”
O'Neill has shipped across the globe with success before. In 2007, he won the Godolphin Mile (G2) with Spring At Last, also donning J. Paul Reddam's purple and white colors, and in 2003 the 49-year-old won the Japan Cup Dirt (G1), now the Champions Cup (G1), with Fleetstreet Dancer.
“Pavel has displayed that if he has a clean trip and is somewhere near the action, he's going to be a force,” O'Neill concluded. “Sometimes it even takes a great horse a little time to figure it out. He has it in him.”
Reddam was second in the 2006 Dubai World Cup with Craig Dollase-trained Wilko.
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